Trump demands chaos and dysfunction to help his campaign against Biden— and because chaos and dysfunction are his trademarks. And, as always, he has plenty of allies in Congress to help him with that goal— regardless if they are creating a country of… well this. And this. Keep in mind that where those two meet… welcome to Magadonia!
Before I get into the GOP plan to shut down the government per se, I want to reference a Politico report about cravenness (ie, Kevin McCarthy) since… no story about Republicans in Congress sabotaging America on behalf of Trump’s campaign could ever be complete without McCarthy’s cravenness. Yesterday’s “Playbook” crew: McCarthy’s secret promise: After “McCarthy suggested on national television last month that Trump may not be the GOP’s best presidential candidate in 2024, the former president was furious— and wanted the California Republican to rectify the slight immediately.”
“He needs to endorse me— today!” Trump fumed on his way to a campaign event in New Hampshire, according to people familiar with what happened. McCarthy, after all, had indicated to Trump’s team that he would do so eventually. Why not clean up the mess and announce his support now?
But the House GOP leader— who has felt compelled to stay neutral during the primary so as to not box in his own members— wasn’t ready to do that. Instead, to calm Trump, McCarthy made him a promise, according to a source close to Trump and familiar with the conversation: The House would vote to expunge the two impeachments against the former president, he told Trump. And— as McCarthy would communicate through aides later that same day— they would do so before August recess.
That vow— made reflexively to save his own skin— may have bought McCarthy some time, staving off a public war with the man who almost single-handedly rehabilitated his entire career and ensured he won the gavel in January. But it has also put McCarthy in a bind— and Trump world plans to hold him to his promise.
The Bind: Several moderate House Republicans are loath to revisit Trump’s impeachments — especially the charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. (In fact, though only 10 of their GOP colleagues voted with Democrats to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 attack, several more wanted to but were too worried about threats to their offices and families to take the plunge.)
But should McCarthy follow through, those members won’t have a choice. Given the speaker’s tenuous position with Trump allies in the House and the threat of his ouster looming over every move, McCarthy has no real option but to bow to the former president’s whims— even if it means putting vulnerable frontliners in a precarious political position.
…Supporters of expungement argue that despite members’ private reservations about the vote, Republicans will fall in line if McCarthy puts the resolution on the floor. It’s not a far-out theory: Most congressional Republicans will go to great lengths to avoid any stance that could be seen as a public rebuke of Trump.
Regardless of its likelihood of passage, Trump world plans to hold McCarthy to account on his promise. While the former president knows he is unable to stop the myriad indictments expected to come his way, he believes the House has the power to erase the stain of impeachment from his name.
Can’t wait to see what David Valadao (R-CA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) do, since they both originally voted for impeachment. And then what about Republicans whose heads are on the electoral chopping block next year, like Mike Lawler (NY), Brandon Williams (NY), Marc Molinaro (NY), Anthony D’Esposito (NY), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR), Mike Garcia (CA), John Duarte (CA), Ken Calvert (CA), Michelle Steel (CA), Young Kim (CA), Don Bacon (NE), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Tom Kean (NJ)… Of course, McCarthy denies he made any such deal with Trump
And that brings us to the Trump campaign’s plan to shut down the government this fall. Congress’ Team Trump is demanding impossible cuts that even the Republican Appropriations Committee doesn’t want to be bamboozled into— and that the Senate would never consider. So the far right of the party says: get ready for the 2023 shut down. 16 of them have already said they prefer a shutdown and signed a letter penned by Scott Perry and Chip Roy making the threat explicit. The signatories are all the usual suspects— the fascists and nihilists:
Scott Perry (PA) R+5
Chip Roy (TX) R+13
Bob Good (VA) R+7
Lauren Boebert (CO) R+7
Dan Bishop (NC) R+20
Josh Brecheen (OK) R+29
Eric Burlison (MO) R+24
Eli Crane (AZ) R+6
Byron Donalds (FL) R+13
Jeff Duncan (SC) R+21
Matt Gaetz (FL) R+19
Paul Gosar (AZ) R+16
Clay Higgins (LA) R+21
Anna Paulina Luna (FL) R+6
Mary Miller (IL) R+22
Barry Moore (AL) R+17
Yesterday, reporting for PunchBowl, Mica Soellner wrote that “With a Sept. 30 deadline looming, GOP negotiators are warning the right flank of their party not to threaten a government shutdown… Stephanie Bice (R-OK), a member of the Appropriations Committee, criticized her colleagues who have openly said they’d support shutting down the government. ‘Forcing a government shutdown is not in the best interest of the country,’ Bice told us. ‘You would see a CR long before you would see a government shutdown.’ … McCarthy acquiesced to hardliner demands to fund the government at FY2022 levels, $130 billion less than agreed to in the debt-limit compromise with the White House… [The fascists and nihilists] warned they would vote against any bill that does not match FY2022 funding levels agreed upon in the debt-limit negotiations. And while some [fascists] have argued they’re not threatening to shut down the government, others have openly embraced the idea. ‘I’m not afraid of a shutdown,” Eric Burlison (R-MO) told us. Tim Burchett (R-TN) said a shutdown ‘doesn’t bother’ him.”
It bothers Ted Lieu-- a lot. "This is the political equivalent of taking your ball and going home when you don't get your way. Speaker McCarthy and President Biden negotiated a deal on spending and now Republicans are going back on that agreement. The Speaker clearly has no control over the Republican Conference. The most extreme Republicans are calling the shots and they are seeking to pass spending bills that inflict deep cuts on important programs that help American families. If they don't get their way they are threatening to shut down the federal government. This is no way to run the most powerful nation on earth. We have serious problems that require serious solutions from serious leaders. I'll be working hard between now and November 2024 to make sure the extreme MAGA Republicans are in the minority next year and can no longer hold our nation hostage."
Even some sitting members of the Appropriations Committee have argued that a shutdown wouldn’t be the worst case scenario in order to slash government funding.
“It doesn’t shut down 75% of the government plus, so all that it really hurts is the military and those types of areas that is an unintended consequence,” Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) told us. “It’s a lot of show, no substance.”
Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX), a Freedom Caucus member who sits on the panel, said “the long-term win” of achieving conservatives’ desired spending cuts would outweigh any short-term discomfort.
“We’ve got to be willing to stand strong on those principles even if it means a difficult news cycle or the way people are going to spend things for a couple weeks,” Cloud told us.
McCarthy has vowed to get all 12 appropriations bills through the House. He said Wednesday it is his “intention and hope” that Congress will fund the government by Sept. 30.
The House Appropriations Committee might not even be able to bring two of the most controversial bills— Labor-HHS and Commerce-Justice-Science— up for a full committee vote.
Several House conservatives sit on the Appropriations Committee, which has pushed it to the right. The panel currently has four HFC members on it, including Cloud and Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD), Ben Cline (R-VA) and Andrew Clyde (R-GA).
And some members of the committee nearly came to blows earlier this week over a GOP amendment to strip funding for three LGBTQ community centers during a markup of the Transportation-HUD bill.
Democrats, meanwhile, are already trying to blame any potential shutdown on Republicans.
Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) accused House Republicans of reneging on the agreement put in place by McCarthy.
“They are leading us straight to a shutdown and will only have themselves to blame when we’re there,” DeLauro told us in a statement. “I didn’t vote for the debt limit bill, because the bill includes caps, and caps are cuts. But I respect the law and believe we should be following it instead of threatening to shut down the government.”
As you probably know, Barbara Lee is running for the open California Senate seat. What you may not know, however, is that she's one of the senior members of the Appropriations Committee, where all this Republican drama has been playing out. Last night, she told me that "The far-right Freedom Caucus is holding the budget hostage with radical anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion measures, bringing us closer to a government shutdown, and harming our communities in the process. Speaker McCarthy is complicit in enabling the fringes of his party to cut spending for vital programs, including rural energy, clean-energy tax breaks, and diversity programs within the military. The GOP efforts to increase wasteful military spending and invest in war, while slashing domestic programs that serve our most vulnerable communities, is deeply immoral. I will continue fighting against these egregious cuts on the Appropriations Committee, focusing on protecting programs that serve the people of the East Bay."
Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) is also a member of the Appropriations Committee and agrees with Barbara that the MAGA Republicans are going in the wrong direction. “Republican members on the Appropriations Committee,” she told me, “consistently advance appropriation bills that renege on the fiscal agreement, load the bills with hateful positions against inclusion, diversity and equity, and denigrate immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, women and low income people. The Republican majority is being held hostage by a minority in their caucus and that minority doesn’t give a damn about the welfare of our country or its people. So… I don’t know what they will do.”
Yesterday, Riverside County Democrat Mark Takano said that he “came to Congress to work towards real policy solutions for the people of the Inland Empire and across the country. The actions we’ve seen from the House Freedom Caucus are a slap in the face to those across our nation who will bear the heaviest burden of a government shutdown. They deserve representation that will fight for policies and programs to better their lives, instead of holding up crucial nominations and threatening government shutdowns over MAGA culture war issues. We must continue to work towards desperately needed bipartisan legislation that meets our constituent's needs, despite the extreme threats of the radical House Freedom Caucus.”